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Salem salvage yard denied permit renewal by selectmen

SALEM – Selectmen have denied the renewal of a permit for an auto salvage yard at 55 Park Ave. that has a long history of complaints from neighbors and the town.

After hearing testimony during public hearings last month and Monday night, selectmen unanimously voted to deny the license renewal for Rocco's Used Auto Parts.

In making the motion to deny, Selectman Stephen Campbell said the business constitutes a public nuisance under state statute as well as New Hampshire common law.

In addition to the neighbors who spoke about noise, fumes, and safety concerns at the business over the past decade, Selectman James Keller pointed to an inch-plus file containing notices of violations dating back to 2006.

“There has been a pattern, and I don't see any reason to believe the pattern is going to change,” said Keller.

Owner Michael McClellan has operated the business for about a decade and said he was willing to work with the town to scale down operations somewhat.

However, the amount of testimony and evidence from neighbors as well as the lengthy list of violations was enough to convince selectmen to deny the permit renewal.

On Monday night, several neighbors reiterated a number of the issues that were brought up during the April 14 public hearing.

Park Avenue resident Heather Vigeant said she is a stay-at-home mom and has seen an increase on traffic on the road over the past several years, as well as many cars speeding at up to twice the posted limit.

Granite Avenue resident Greg Eden said he agreed with the concerns raised about painting, fumes, and noise coming from the business, as well as the crushing of cars on site.

“They have not been good neighbors at all,” said Eden.

Debbie Smith, whose Park Avenue home is next to the salvage yard, said the business definitely raises to the level of public nuisance as prescribed by state law, noting that it has affected the health, safety, peace, comfort, and convenience of the general public.

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